NBC, msnbc.com and news services
updated 1/27/2011 2:55:45 AM ET 2011-01-27T07:55:45

Heavy snow continued to wreak havoc on the Northeast Thursday, with airports closed and roads snarled as another storm swept over a region already beaten down by a winter not even half over.

In New York's Central Park, 15 inches had fallen by 2 a.m. ET, smashing an 86-year-old record for snowfall in January, according to the National Weather Service.

In other areas, 14 inches had fallen at Newark, an estimated 8 to 10 inches hit Philadelphia, with 6 inches at Baltimore Washington International Airport and 3 inches at Providence, Rhode Island.

"I fell three times trying to get off the steps," commuter Elliot Self said after leaving an elevated train in Philadelphia. "I just want the snow to stop. I want the sun again. I want to feel just a little bit of warmth."

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In the Washington, D.C., area, traffic was at a standstill, with motorists stuck for hours on icy roadways, NBC News reported.

Runways were closed Wednesday evening at the region's airports, and the airport authority said flight cancellations and delays early Thursday morning.

Blankets were being handed out to the several hundred passengers who couldn't leave the terminals because there was no ground transportation to hotels.

Woman dies
Police on New York's Long Island said a pickup truck plowing a snow-covered parking lot struck and killed a woman Wednesday afternoon.

Since Dec. 14, snow has fallen eight times on the New York region — or an average of about once every five days, including the blizzard that dropped 20 inches on the city and paralyzed travel after Christmas.

The NWS said the old record for Central Park was the 27.4 inches which fell in 1925. The latest snowfall took that to 32.3 inches.

The New York area's three major airports, among the nation's busiest, saw more than 1,000 flights canceled. John F. Kennedy in New York and Newark International in New Jersey were among Northeast airports shut down early Thursday.

In Pennsylvania, residents hunkered down as a one-two punch of a winter storm brought snow, sleet and then more snow, which forecasters said could total a foot in some areas.

Philadelphia declared a snow emergency as of Wednesday evening, ordering cars removed from emergency routes.

Northwest, in Hatfield Township, Pa., residents were scared by thunder claps and blinding lightning in a rare thundersnow, a thunderstorm with heavy snow instead of rain.

New Jersey also was looking at up to a foot of snow, and high winds were expected before the storm moves out early Thursday.

Rain drenched the nation's capital for most of the day and changed to sleet before it started snowing in earnest at midafternoon. Washington was expected to get up to 10 inches of snow.

Image: Traffic mess in DC
Pablo Monsivais  /  AP
Snow and slush made for a mess commute Wednesday in Washington, D.C.

President grounded
The snow and icy roads created hazardous conditions for President Barack Obama as he returned to the White House on Wednesday after a post-State of the Union trip to Manitowoc, Wis.

The wintry weather grounded Marine One, the helicopter that typically transports Obama to and from the military base where Air Force One lands.

Instead, Obama was met at the plane by his motorcade, which spent an hour weaving through rush hour traffic already slowed by the storm. It normally takes the president's motorcade about 20 minutes to travel between the base and the White House.

In suburban Silver Spring, Md., nurse Tiffany Horairy said as she waited for a bus that she was getting tired of the constant pecking of minor or moderate storms.

"I'd rather get something like last year, with all the snow at once," she said.

PhotoBlog: View, discuss weather photos

Officials urged residents in Washington and Maryland to stay off the roads as snow, thunder and lightning pounded the Mid-Atlantic region. In D.C., Metro transit officials pulled buses off the roads as conditions deteriorated. Firefighters warned the heavy snow was bringing down power lines and causing outages.

About 200,000 customers lost power, about half as many as in July, when a powerful line of thunderstorms moved through the area.

Some places are running out of room to stash plowed snow.

Portsmouth, N.H., hauls its snow out to Peirce Island, but it was nearly full, with a huge mountain of the stuff.

Video: Watch the Weather Channel's forecast (on this page)

"We probably have a five-story snow dump right now," said Portsmouth public works director David Allen. "It's time to get a lift up on it and we could probably do a ski run."

For days, forecasters had been predicting rain, freezing rain or deep snow along the East Coast, but they weren't quite sure who would get what. That unpredictability continued playing out as the storm swept from middle Appalachia into the Northeast.

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In New Jersey, state workers were sent home early and schools closed as the storm brought more snow than anticipated Wednesday morning. A second band of snow began falling in the evening. The NJ Transit agency allowed customers to use bus tickets for rail travel, and vice versa, to get home any way they could.

In suburban Philadelphia's Phoenixville, a delayed decision to call off classes angered parents when dozens of students got stranded at school. Eighty-seven buses had to be redirected to take students back home.

Parents and teachers in Tennessee were concerned about yet another day off from school Wednesday. Angela Wilburn, who teaches eighth grade at McMurray Middle School in Nashville, said students had missed eight days so far this year, pushing back her teaching schedule and making it difficult to keep kids focused. She was worried about a writing test scheduled for February.

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"The writing assessment counts toward No Child Left Behind," she said. "It affects the whole school."

New York City declared a weather emergency for the second time since the Dec. 26 storm, which trapped hundreds of buses and ambulances and caused a political crisis for the mayor. An emergency declaration means any car blocking roads or impeding snowplows can be towed at the owner's expense.

In the suburbs, a pickup truck plowing a snow-covered parking lot struck and killed a Long Island woman Wednesday afternoon, police said.

Story: Obama caught in Washington's wintry weather

In Kentucky, where several inches of snow fell, a man who lost control of his pickup truck on an ice-covered road and got out of it was hit and killed by another truck that lost control on the same patch.

Numerous vehicles were disabled or abandoned across northern Delaware, and dozens of crashes were reported.

The Associated Press, NBC News and Reuters contributed to this report.

Video: Storm plows into Northeast

Photos: East Coast storm

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  1. Two men push a stuck car though the snow on Thursday, Jan. 27, in the Bronx Borough of New York. The overnight snow left more than a foot of snow in the area. (Don Emmert / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Passengers wait Thursday for the John F. Kennedy International Airport to reopen after it was closed overnight due to heavy snowfall. (Jessica Rinaldi / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. A pedestrian makes his way through Morningside Park in Manhattan after snow blanketed New York City on Thursday. (Jonathan D. Woods / msnbc.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Stella Anderson, 6, and her father, Roger Anderson catch air while sledding near Columbus Circle in New York City's Central Park on Thursday. Mayor Michael Bloomberg canceled school and shut down non-emergency government offices. (Jonathan D. Woods / msnbc.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Pedestrians jump over the slush and snow along 7th Avenue in New York before the big snowfall. (John Makely / msnbc.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. A flag pokes above the snow around mounds of covered grave markers at Veterans Memorial Field in East Hartford, Conn., on Thursday. (Jessica Hill / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Ira Abney negotiates snow-covered subway stairs in the aftermath of the storm in Philadelphia on Thursday. (Matt Rourke / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. A man shovels a walkway to a mailbox in Manchester, Conn., after another winter storm on Thursday. (Jessica Hill / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Planes are grounded on a snow covered tarmac at New York's LaGuardia Airport on Thursday. (Jessica Rinaldi / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. A man shovels snow off his car on the upper west side of New York City on Thursday. (Mike Segar / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Three men attempt to free an automobile from the snow on New York's Upper West Side on Thursday. (Richard Drew / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Pedestrians make their way past a pile of snow along Sixth Avenue in New York. (John Makely / msnbc.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Abandoned vehicles litter the George Washington Parkway in McLean, Virginia, just outside Washington on Thursday. The snowstorm caused havoc as many motorists abandoned their stranded vehicles during evening rush-hour in the Capital region. (Hyungwon Kang / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. A young boy and his father with their sled hike up Cedar Hill in New York's Central Park on Thursday, the morning after another storm dumped more than a foot of snow in some areas overnight. All New York City public schools and non-emergency city government offices were closed. (Timothy A. Clary / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Footprints in the snow are seen in front of the Lincoln Memorial, looking toward the Washington Monument on Thursday. (Jacquelyn Martin / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Following an overnight snow storm that hit the New York area, a man shovels a sidewalk in Hoboken, New Jersey, on Thursday morning. (Gary Hershorn / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. A man walks down W. 49th St. in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood of New York after a blizzard on Thursday. (Jonathan D. Woods / msnbc.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Workers clear a platform at the Edison train station as snow falls during a storm late Wednesday, Jan. 26, in Edison, N.J. (Mel Evans / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Outbound traffic creeps along Interstate 66 across the Potomac River from Washington, in Arlington, Va. after a major winter storm snarled rush hour traffic in the Nation's Capitol, Wednesday. (J. David Ake / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. A snow plow clears the front of the White House as a storm hits Washington late Wednesday. (Jason Reed / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. As seen from a motorcade vehicle, a portion of the motorcade carrying President Barack Obama makes its way through snarled traffic and spun out cars on Suitland Parkway on Wednesday near Morningside, Md., enroute to the White House in Washington. (Carolyn Kaster / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. A woman makes her way down a snowy sidewalk on Wednesday in New York City. (Chris Hondros / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. A subway train exits a tunnel into snowfall as commuters wait at a station on Wednesday in Brooklyn. (Bebeto Matthews / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Joel Chuta clears sidewalks at Belvedere Square, Wednesday in north Baltimore. Snow and slush covered the Baltimore region in the morning with heavier accumulations expected later in the day. (Amy Davis / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. Snow-covered bicycles are parked on the University of Delaware Newark campus Wednesday. (The News Journal/robert Craig / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. A vehicle lies on its side along Kelly Drive during as a winter storm moved into Philadelphia on Wednesday. (Matt Rourke / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. An exercise rider drives a horse through a snowstorm at Yonkers Raceway in Yonkers, New York, on Wednesday. Heavy snow moved into the New York City area as a fast moving winter storm worked its way up the northeastern U.S. coast. (Mike Segar / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. Charlene Cruz attempts Wednesday to walk with her daughter Carmelia, 18 months, along U.S. Route 6 in Bristol, Conn. near the intersection with Oakland Street during the latest winter storm to hit Southern New England. (Mike Orazzi / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
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Data: Wild Nor’easter

What causes the East’s winter storms?


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